Lots of factors go into creating your online store. One of the most important, however, is choosing the right platform for your eCommerce website.
Two of the most popular platforms to choose from are WooCommerce vs Shopify. You’ve probably heard of both, but which one will be your best bet?
Check out this guide for a detailed comparison! From setup and ease of use to security, we go over everything you need to know about each.
Overview of WooCommerce and Shopify
Before getting into the details of what WooCommerce and Shopify offer, here’s an overview of each platform.
Having launched in 2011, WooCommerce is an open-source eCommerce plugin that provides all the functionality required to create a shop on a WordPress website, to sell products, downloads or services.
To use it, you must have an existing WordPress website and hosting.
Since 2006, Shopify has let users run their eCommerce stores independent of content management systems. The platform makes it easy to accept payments while taking care of hosting, caching, security, and other technical aspects of running a website.
Setup: WooCommerce vs Shopify
When you’re starting an online store, you want the setup to be as easy as possible. A seamless process will ensure you can start selling products ASAP. Luckily, WooCommerce and Shopify are both easy to set up. See below for more details.
• WooCommerce – Install and Configure
As we mentioned earlier, WooCommerce requires you to have an existing WordPress website. Once you have your site and hosting, download and install the plugin. Then, run the Setup Wizard and follow the prompts. You will have to set location-specific details and configure shipment methods, payment gateways, add your products, etc.
• Shopify – Create an Account
Shopify is perhaps slightly easier to set up than WooCommerce. Rather than needing an existing website, all you have to do is create an account. You will have to provide your store name/contact information and fill out a form that gauges your goals. From here, you can configure settings when it comes to your products and shipping etc.
Both WooCommerce and Shopify are fairly easy to setup, and both have great resources to help you get started.
With that being said, this should not be a deciding factor when choosing which one to go with to build your eCommerce site.
Themes and Templates: WooCommerce vs Shopify
Setup can be even easier with the templates that these platforms provide. Let’s take a closer look at what’s available:
• WooCommerce – Lots of Themes to Choose From
WordPress has thousands of themes available to suite your requirements.
Users can choose from different styles and those that match your business structure (pet stores, fashion, food, etc.).
The free options are limited, but the paid templates are relatively affordable, with a huge variety of options.
Here are a few of the best places to explore available themes:
• Shopify – Good Theme Selection But Limited Customization
Shopify also has plenty of themes to choose from too. The wide selection makes up for the fact that you have limited options for customization. The paid options tend to be more expensive than WooCommerce, but there is a decent amount of free templates available.
Both options have a great selection of themes available, however if you’re looking for more in-depth customization options, then WooCommerce has the advantage.
Features and Add-Ons: WooCommerce vs Shopify
Aside from themes and templates, you should consider what features and add-ons these platforms provide. Here’s what you can expect from each:
• WooCommerce – Complete Customization
When you use WooCommerce, you can customize every aspect of your website.
WooCommerce also offers a variety of extensions on their website to extend its functionality with extra features, and there are thousands of other third-party extension plugins available too from other websites and in the free WordPress.org plugin directory.
• Shopify – Limited Customization
Unfortunately, Shopify doesn’t offer nearly as much customization. The platform has far fewer plugins (though still a decent selection) and gives you limited control over how your website looks and functions. Some users find this restricting, while others appreciate the simplicity.
If you’re looking to build a more bespoke and unique eCommerce website, with custom functionality, then WooCommerce is probably the best choice for you.
Ease of Use: WooCommerce vs Shopify
Overall, Shopify is slightly easier to use than WooCommerce. Here’s why:
• WooCommerce – More Control With Higher Learning Curve
You don’t need to be a web developer to use WooCommerce. But the platform has a higher learning curve than competitors. You must learn how to keep your website secure, stay on top of updates, use plugins to scale your business, etc. This is where a WordPress care plan may come in handy.
Even though this platform requires a more hands-on approach, you get complete control over your site.
• Shopify – Keeps Things Simple
If WooCommerce is hands-on, Shopify is hands-off. You don’t have to worry about the technical parts of maintaining a website. And thanks to the simple drag and drop builder, designing your pages couldn’t be easier. You don’t get as much control, but it may be less stressful.
Security: WooCommerce vs Shopify
To protect yourself and your customers, you need to keep sensitive information safe. Here’s a look at the security features of these two platforms:
While WordPress is generally safe at core, the CMS can be vulnerable to attacks.
You need to protect sensitive information by staying on top of updates and maintaining additional security measures yourself. However, you can also pay for WordPress Management Services which will take care of this for you.
The WooCommerce plugin is considered safe at core, but if you are installing multiple different third-party plugins that are not kept up to date, there are chances of vulnerabilities which could cause security breaches or malware.
If you don’t want to have to think twice about security, Shopify is also a good choice. The company takes care of all security by handling all software updates, remaining PCI compliant, etc.
Speed, SEO, & Overall Performance: WooCommerce vs Shopify
To build a great user experience and maximize conversions, you need an eCommerce website that performs. Check out how these platforms affect speed, SEO, and overall performance:
• WooCommerce – Performance Rests on Your Shoulders
With WooCommerce, the performance of your site rests on your shoulders. Like with security, you can optimize WordPress performance by staying on top of updates, using fast hosting, performance plugins such as WP Rocket, and carefully choosing which plugins you use.
• Shopify – Guaranteed Performance
Shopify takes care of most optimisations for you, and promises to offer unlimited bandwidth with fast loading times. Its servers can handle lots of traffic, even on its busiest days.
Maintenance and Support: WooCommerce vs Shopify
If you ever run into problems, you want a good support team by your side. See below to learn whether WooCommerce or Shopify has better customer support.
• WooCommerce – Enlist WordPress Maintenance Services
While WooCommerce does not necessarily have a dedicated support team (for the free plugin), you can troubleshoot by checking out online forums and guides. However, the best thing you can do is avoid problems in the first place by using a WordPress maintenance service, which will help you with support, maintenance, security, and more.
• Shopify – 24/7 Support
Shopify takes care of maintenance, meaning you don’t have to worry about updates. If you run into problems, they offer a support team available to help you with any issues.
Shipping and Inventory Management: WooCommerce vs Shopify
An eCommerce store isn’t just for your customers; it should make it easy for you to manage your shipping and inventory. WooCommerce and Shopify have many of the same management features; they let you reorder stock, automate shipments, and more.
Payment Methods: WooCommerce vs Shopify
When choosing a platform, you need to understand how you can use it to accept payment from customers. Here’s an overview of the payment methods that WooCommerce and Shopify are compatible with:
• WooCommerce – Compatible With Many Payment Services
WooCommerce does not charge transaction fees. However, you will have to pay the transaction fees that come from third-party payment gateways. While most people use the free Paypal and Stripe integrations, WooCommerce also supports many smaller payment services.
• Shopify – Transaction Fees With Shopify Payments
If you use Shopify Payments, you will have to pay transaction fees. If you choose to use third-party gateways, you will have to pay Shopify fees on top of the third-party gateway charges.
Cost: WooCommerce vs Shopify
Of course, you’ll need to consider how these platforms fit into your budget. Here’s an overview of the cost of each:
• WooCommerce – Not Necessarily “Free”
Many entrepreneurs see WooCommerce as an attractive option because it’s free to download. The plugin also does not charge transaction fees. However, there are other costs you must consider.
Most importantly, you will have to pay fees for your domain name, web hosting, plugins/addons, and a developer if you need help with support, maintenance, or custom features etc.
These monthly costs can quickly add up. So, if you use WooCommerce, you should look for a hosting company that offers specialized Managed WordPress Hosting services. These plans will give you the best value.
You may also need to download extensions if you want to scale your business with WooCommerce. Some of them are free, but many of them cost money.
• Shopify – Paid Plans and Transaction Fees
Shopify is nice in that it includes your domain name, web hosting, and SSL Certificate in its paid plans. You also get 24/7 access to support, the ability to add unlimited products to your site, and other perks.
One disadvantage is that even with its paid plans, Shopify charges transaction fees (see the next section to learn more), and it has fewer plugins/extensions available compared to WooCommerce.
Final Verdict – Choosing the Best Platform for You
As you can tell from this guide, one platform isn’t necessarily better than the other. They’re both powerful tools that come with their own pros and cons.
If you are just starting a small shop, Shopify should work fine for ease of use. If you want more control over your site, WooCommerce is the way to go.
As long as you keep your business’s needs in mind when making your decision, you’ll be setting yourself up for success.
If you need help setting up your WooCommerce website, feel free to contact us.